It's not often one get's the opportunity to purchase an exquisite piece of American history, and if you have about $6,000,000 burning a hole in your money bin, this is your opportunity. For the rest of us, we'll just have to observe from the sidelines, but we'll have some fun doing it. 

A recent addition to the Old Town Alexandria real estate market is the stately federal style home known as the "Lord Fairfax House." Though there is no way this home will be on the open house list any time soon, I figure it is worth posting about purely for the gawk factor of us common folk who can only buy a Powerball or Mega Millions ticket (well, probably both) in hopes of affording it.

Erected (true mansions this grand aren't built, they're erected) circa 1800, the home was constructed as the winter residence to Thomas Lord Fairfax, Ninth Baron Cameron, and his son until 1875. But you can read that from the historic plaque located on the front of the home.

You can see the full listing of photos on the house's home tour via the home's listing, so I'm just going to focus and elaborate on a few of the truly jaw dropping aspects of the mansion.

The home retains much of its original character, intricate woodworking, and architectural elements, though it has been a private residence throughout its life and has been updated along the way. These updates include such items as a circa 1880 addition. Yes, this house was getting an addition that was larger than our home some six years before our home was even built. This 1880s addition off of the back of the original house is actually where the modern kitchen sits today. Notice the back staircase tucked behind the kitchen...I want a back staircase.

One of the first and most striking aspects of this home is its grand receiving hallway. Lord Fairfax, being a Lord and all, was required to entertain extensively. As a result, he had to impress his guests with a rather grand entry hall to ensure they were wowed as they were received into the home. I'd say this effect was adequately accomplished.  Such is a difficult life of a lord.

Upon arrival guests would then be led to either the sitting room to the right, or to the dining room on the left. Either way, with their spacious rooms and 14' ceilings, I think you can just about fit our whole house in these two rooms.

Wendy and I have been in this house on a few occasions during Old Town home tours, and It is absolutely stunning in every aspect. The opulence of the decor, though not necessarily our taste, fits quite well with the home. But my single favorite architectural element of the home is the winding grand staircase.

The stairs appear to float as they wind up to the third floor within the house. It is elegant and significant, and each level has a super cool coffin niche. The view from the third floor looking down is just stunning, no other way to describe it. Though the kid in me still wants to throw plastic army men paratroopers down from this height.

As grand as the indoor elements of this house are, the outdoor space is nearly equal. The house is situated on a large lot with an equally sized lot adjacent to the home as the residence's yard. Yes, in Old Town $6,000,000 apparently buys you a nice sized yard. This yard has a formal garden, patio area, and a recently constructed large outdoor building with a fireplace. Perfect for lounging while you count the cash that undoubtedly is spilling from your pockets.

One evening, while walking by this house, Wendy and I noticed a large party going on in the yard. The party was complete with a live band. The side yard and building was seriously hopping, and it looked like a great time. I can't imagine owning this sort of a thing, but if we did, oh the parties we would have.

No home of this stature would be complete without a study and billiards room (how else would you play live action Clue?). Luckily, if you're thinking about buying this place, you don't have to worry about that one bit, you get both.

Does is sound too good to be true? Are you just about to fuel up your jet and get on the phone with your real estate agent? Wait one second, there is but one drawback with this house. I hope you don't own a collection of exotic cars, otherwise you might need to start figuring out which one is your favorite. Unfortunately this house has but one small one car garage. Sure there are two additional reserved spaces, but just one garage spot. Not ideal when your Bugatti and Maybach are fighting to get out of the rain. In true city living style, this five bedroom, five and one half bathroom, 8,000 sq ft home puts a premium on parking.

Perhaps you can use this aspect to negotiate the home down a bit closer to the city's assessed 2011 value of $3,074,667. Given the disparity between the assessment and the list price, I'd say that this home is not necessarily "priced to move." Given that the current owners purchased it for a cool $2 million back in 1999, roughly what the city's assessment listed at the time, I wouldn't be surprised if the actual selling price, whenever that may occur, is actually much closer to the $3 million mark than the $6 million asking price. 

At any rate, as much as I'd sweat having to figure out how to cover the $30,000 plus annual real estate tax bill before you even figure in your mortgage payment, this isn't a problem I will need to worry about. Instead I can just appreciate the home for the historical significance it offers the neighborhood in which we live. And I can walk by it on the way to Trader Joe's and say, "Wow, that really is an amazing house."  

Got any amazingly (high) priced homes on the market in your neck of the woods? I'm talking about the ones that make you do a double take when you see the listing price.

Interested in reading about other interesting homes for sale? Want to offer your take on "would you trade"? Check out the Open Housing section of Old Town Home.

Photos Credit: McEnearney Associates, Inc. Realtors, Carol Cleary

Comments 5


7/12/2011 at 6:42 PM
Cool place. I'd say judging location and features vs. price, it'd probably be a bargain at $3 million.

Just around the corner from us in Philly is the Bergdoll Mansion, currently for sale. (Google for "Philadelphia Bergdoll Mansion" to see it.) Another splendid, unique property with a suitably weird history...
Wow, just Googled the Bergdoll Mansion... WOW. That place is no joke!

As for the Lord Fairfax House, I personally can't ever bring myself to call $3 million a bargain, but you are right. $3 million would be a good price for the location, space, and importance. It is a package deal worth having, but I wish it was in our range...though our range isn't even close enough to be considered a third cousin of the asking price range.
7/27/2011 at 7:52 PM
hilarious request, guys. If I had $6 mil, you'd be visiting! HA!

That's a beauty!
1/19/2015 at 7:11 PM

This house was owned for years by Winfield Scott and Anna Macgill, my aunt and uncles. Use to play in the garden and have holiday parties in the house. Great memories. My cousin had her wedding reception there and it was beautiful. Beautiful home with loads of history. Enjoy.

1/19/2015 at 7:13 PM

Beautiful home owned years ago by Winfield Scott and Anna Macgill, my uncle and aunt. I use to play in the gardens and enjoy holiday parties in this house. Loads of history, beautiful and so well maintained. Wonderful family memories. Thank you.

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